This is Odie.
Odie is dead.
Odie was killed by you and me. It wasn’t because someone didn’t go down to the shelter and adopt her. It wasn’t because someone didn’t sign up as a foster to rescue her from the “short term rescue” list. It isn’t because we didn’t like and share and network her enough.
No, she was never given any of those chances.
Odie was killed last week at the Pima Animal Care Center. I really want to say murdered, but that implies it was illegal, and by all indications the staff had the proper form signed by the proper number of people so that they could, by law, condemn this pet to death.
Odie was surrendered after her owner of six years passed away, and next of kin couldn’t care for her. She had a collar on with a tag that read, “I’m deaf,” and the volunteer who took this photo said she appeared to be blind as well. Not surprisingly, Odie was getting stressed out and barking loudly in the shelter - being thrown in a concrete cell with strangers and all the strange smells can’t be an easy situation for any animal, let alone one that cannot hear or see clearly. Can you imagine your own disorientation? With the simple touch of a few fingers through the wire gate, she stopped barking and calmed down. All she needed was companionship.
The evaluator who assessed Odie told the volunteer she was going off for alter surgery before becoming available for adoptions, so she posted this photo to start spreading the word.
Odie’s story was very personal to me because my most recent rescue litter included a deaf puppy. I was so worried about finding her an appropriate home, but wouldn’t you know it she was the first puppy adopted, taken home by a loving family that did their research and was committed to the challenges of a deaf dog. But bad things do happen, and Odie could easily have been my puppy, a couple years from now.
There are so many ways this story could end. There are rescues who specialize in special needs animals who are blind and or deaf. There are people who would drop everything to get this girl out of this miserable environment and into a safe home. I would have dropped everything if I knew my puppy was there. But you already know that isn’t how this story ends. Instead of going to be altered as the volunteer had been told, Odie was actually taken away to be euthanized.
The solution to the confusion caused by the strange shelter environment in this healthy girl who had been a loved family member for six years... was to kill her.
How is this our fault? Pima Animal Care Center is a public shelter, a government agency run by the Pima County Health Department. They are ultimately accountable to our elected county officials, and they ultimately represent us. PACC has made a lot of progress in the past few years, but only because of the pressure the rescue community has put on them, and it isn’t enough. We just gave them a $22 million check for a brand new facility, so there has never been a better time to change the culture. They will only continue to improve if there is continued public pressure to do so.
Adopt. Rescue. Volunteer. Donate. But at the very least, spread the word, raise awareness, and make your voice heard. Do it now, before the next Odie comes into the shelter.
(Photo copyright Heather Dean Binnie - heatherlb.blogspot.com